"Moments to Talk About": Designing for the Eudaimonic Gameplay Experience

Cole, Tom. 2021. "Moments to Talk About": Designing for the Eudaimonic Gameplay Experience. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis investigates the mixed-affect emotional experience of playing videogames. Its contribution is by way of a set of grounded theories that help us understand the game players' mixed-affect emotional experience, and that support analysts and designers in seeking to broaden and deepen emotional engagement in videogames.

This was the product of three studies:

First — An analysis of magazine reviews for a selection of videogames suggested there were two kinds of challenge being presented. Functional challenge — the commonly accepted notion of challenge, where dexterity and skill with the controls or strategy is used to overcome challenges, and emotional challenge — where resolution of tension within the narrative, emotional exploration of ambiguities within the diegesis, or identification with characters is overcome with cognitive and affective effort.

Second — further investigation into the notion of emotional challenge become a reflection on the nature and definition of agency. A new theory of agency was constructed — comprising of Interpretive, Actual, Mechanical, and Fictional Agency. Interpretive Fictional Agency was highlighted as particularly important in facilitating a mixed-affect gameplay experience.

Third — further interviews led to a core concept of `emotional exploration' — an analogy that is useful in helping explain how to design for emotional challenge, why players would be interested in seeking it out, and how the mixed-affect emotional experience is constituted during gameplay.

These three theories are integrated and the mixed-affect emotional experience of interest resulting from gameplay is defined as the ‘Eudaimonic Gameplay Experience’.

It is hoped that this will help developers and researchers better understand how to analyse and design single-player videogames that increase the chances for a deep, reflective and more varied emotional experience to take place, and take advantage of the latent expressive and artistic potential that still remains under-explored in videogames.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



videogames, emotions, HCI human computer interaction, grounded theory, video games, eudaimonia, eudaimonic gameplay experience

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 January 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Jan 2021 14:29

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2022 10:14



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